Batang Ai is one of the two state seats in the Lubok Antu parliamentary constituency. The other is Engkilili.
Anwar tolSayat in Lubok Antu.
According to him, Jawah was the favourite choice to face Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, the candidate chosen by the Barisan Nasional.
At the same time, Anwar appointed Nicholas Bawin as the director of operations for the by-election. Bawin had been another hot choice to carry the flag for the Pakatan in Batang Ai.
The 55-year old Jawah is an economics graduate from University of Malaya. He worked with a bank in Kuching before being recruited by the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak for the Lubok Antu parliamentary seat in 1987. He was returned unopposed in 1990 and 1995 elections.
A much-awaited opening for the Pakatan
Batang Ai has been widely viewed as a golden opportunity for the Pakatan to make gains in the tightly-held Sarawak state assembly, paving the way for Anwar and his team to bring their message of reform to the Land of the Hornbills.
While a resource-rich state, Sarawak has large pockets of poverty-stricken masses - marginalised and down-trodden by the ham-fisted rule of Abdul Taib Mahmud, the BN chief minister famed for his opulent tastes and fabulous lifestyle.
“We may not have a strong machinery like BN but the Sarawakians are familiar with our policies and our stand on issues regarding the Dayaks is well known,” Anwar said. “We have some active candidates in the constituency and they will be considered.”
Batang Ai itself is a rural constituency in the northeastern part of Sarawak, close-by to the Indonesian West Kalimantan border. A straight fight is expected between KeADILan and PRS in the constituency, which is 95 percent Dayak and the rest mostly Chinese.
The seat was vacated after the untimely death of BN’s Dublin Unting Ingkot last month. Bawin, who was then with Snap, lost by 806 votes in the 2006 state election. He polled 2,489 to Unting’s 3,295 votes.